BIMM Berlin is now officially open, ushering in a new age for the international music college. The faculty’s long-awaited launch celebrations saw venue takeovers, live bands, guest speakers and industry involvement across a music-filled weekend. With new students joining from 19 different countries, the campus takes the BIMM experience to the heart of Europe.
As ever, a core BIMM objective is to connect their students with the music industry, so there are few places suited to give students the head start they deserve. “Berlin is steeped in musical heritage and is rich in current artistic creativity,” says College Manager Mark Clayden. “The music industry in Berlin generates in excess of 700 million euros a year. Over 14,000 Berliners are working in 1,400 music-industry companies based here.” A host of major players in the world’s music business have a presence in the city: from major labels like Universal and Sony BMG to cutting-edge music distribution services like Spotify and Soundcloud. Locally there are over 150 music publishers, over 100 dedicated recording studios, as well as hundreds of international promoters, ticketing agencies and concert/event planners. These companies are all operating in Berlin due to its reputation as an international creative hub.
Berlin’s status as a magnet for innovation and creation makes it the ideal location for this new BIMM campus with its state of the art equipment, contemporary learning spaces and ambitious standard of teaching staff. The faculty mirrors its British counterparts by using established artists and people with in-depth knowledge of the music industry. Already working there are Pete ‘Budgie’ Clarke (drummer for Siouxsie And The Banshees, The Creatures, John Grant), Knox Chandler (guitarist and producer for Lou Reed, R.E.M, Depeche Mode, Grace Jones, The Psychedelic Furs), The Prodigy drummer Kieron Pepper, songwriter and performer Jane Arnison and legendary producer Pete Smith.
Located in the vibrant and creative Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg district, BIMM Berlin is right where cultures clash, events and festivals bloom, and cutting-edge music plays all day long. “We are based in the Noisy Musicworld building, which sees 8,000 musicians a month rehearsing. So some amazing things are going to happen in terms of artists meeting, creating music and putting on shows.” The beautiful converted warehouse is also home to many of Berlin’s important ticketing agencies, radio stations and recording studios. Steps away from all the best music spots in town, like the huge O2 World and the legendary Berghain club, it’s the perfect location for a modern music academy.
The music scene in Berlin is definitely as vibrant as it was before re-unification, maybe even more so. “It’s difficult to compare the scenes before and after. Before 1989, it was the unique atmosphere which attracted young creative people from West-Germany and from all over the world.” After 1989 Berlin saw a new creative surge, based on the emergent techno scene, plenty of cheap creative spaces, minimal living costs and the existing spirit of Berlin as a unique, creative city. “The scene became way more international after 1990, which is one of the biggest differences…”
One thing key to the whole experience is embracing the ‘BIMM Balance’, where rock and roll meets education. “BIMM brings the learning off of the page, providing up to date information on today’s music industry alongside an internationally recognised qualification for University of West London.” This also gives students the chance to meet musicians, artists and music practitioners every week. This has already seen The Smith’s Mike Joyce and Kasabian’s Ian Matthews come in as guests, whilst this month Thurston Moore and We Are Scientists will be visiting BIMM Berlin.
As ever the college take its mission to help students achieve success in their careers, as musicians, songwriters, producers and industry professionals. “There are now hundreds of BIMM alumni working as musicians and music practitioners across the world. Graduate examples include James Bay, George Ezra, The Kooks, Ben Thompson, Natasha Bent and Becki Willard.” Thousands of alumni now work at the highest possible levels throughout the music industry. Soon BIMM Berlin students, and eventually graduates, will be making their mark across Berlin and the world beyond.